CYPRUS: Limassol residents rage against the towers

3 mins read

With developers and investors eyeing western Limassol for new luxury high rises, residents living in the already block-saturated city are campaigning against a new four-tower project close to the marina.

A group of residents have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court asking for the cancellation of the building permit issued for a mixed-use complex to include 4 towers, with the highest one standing at 40-storeys tall.

The Limassol NEO project includes 4 high-rise towers, of 40, 34, 34 and 29 floors, four retail shops, three restaurants-coffee shops and 353 residential apartments, as well as 1,405 parking spaces.

The residents of Ypatias Street, where the complex will be situated, are appealing against Limassol Municipality’s decision to award a Town Planning Permit for the disputed project to protect their health, quality of life and property.

“We decided to exercise our right of access to justice, as interested citizens who are directly affected by this project because of the significant negative and irreversible effects of the disputed Limassol NEO on our families, our homes as well as on our neighborhood,” Loucia Demetriou of the Ypatias Initiative Group told the Financial Mirror.

Mainly though, we are exercising our right for justice as active citizens over concern regarding the course that Limassol Municipality has chosen in the name of development and at the expense of the entire city,” she added.

Residents say their quality of life is impacted during the construction with a significant increase in noise, dust and air pollution, traffic load, temporary shading of adjacent homes and the privacy of the neighbouring.

Residents’ lives are negatively impacted not only during the construction but also following the completion of the projects argues Demetriou.

“You cannot imagine the amount of dust entering people’s homes, the air pollution… Roads behind these projects are usually old tight streets, through which trucks have to squeeze through creating an additional burden for the already overloaded traffic in the area.”

She added that the towers are not only taking their toll only on the lives of the residents, but also on the landscape and the environment.

“Projects like the NEO are expected to degrade and alter significantly the landscape of this area, which includes remarkable elements of natural as well as structured environment such as the Municipal Gardens, the Olympia Seafront and remarkable buildings listed for preservation, such as the Pattichio Municipal Museum.”

Demetriou argues that procedures for issuing town planning and building permits have not been followed or put forward for public consultation.

One particular concern is the degradation and inadequate management of the quality of the bathing waters of the Olympia Seafront region and the Limassol Bay in general due to the imminent discharge at sea of large amounts of brackish water and mud resulting from large-scale deep excavations.

Additionally, significant harm of the coastal zone is expected, as the tallest building is planned to be built at a distance of 40-50 metres from the sea, with no provision for high-rises within the coastal protection zone by the national legislation.

“We are trying to stop the course Limassol Municipality has chosen in the name of development which is at the expense of the entire city,” said Demetriou. 

She said the Municipality is allowing the uncontrolled and scattered placement of high-rises in the city and especially on the seafront area with serious, negative and irreversible effects on the environment and the quality of life of all the residents.

Climate Change

Echoing Demetriou’s concerns over uncontrolled development, a civil engineer and member of another organised group against Limassol high rises said that local’s beef with the towers is because they are ‘mushrooming’ without any area plan or proper environmental studies, while in many cases proper procedures for licenses were not followed.

Yiannis Kakoulis, representing a group called the Active Citizens’ Initiative Against Tall Buildings told the Financial Mirror that in many cases objections voiced by residents during public consultations are completely ignored.

“There was a public consultation regarding the increase of the building coefficient for the city organised by the Municipality, where a group of citizens voiced their objections. When we asked for the minutes of the meeting, the Municipality, after initially refusing to do so, gave us a list of conclusions drawn from the meeting. There was no mention of objections voiced.”

He noted that the uncontrolled building of towers without an area plan has its toll on the environment, as a result, environmental studies are being handed in for each project separately without a holistic approach, indicating the overall impact on the surroundings.

“Building skywards without an area plan and an overall environmental plan will see Limassol’s climate change. Temperatures within the city have already risen due to the towers mushrooming on the seafront, cutting off the cool air coming from the Mediterranean,” said Kakoulis.

He noted that another environmental issue is seawater being pumped from the foundation of these buildings back to sea.

“The seafront of Limassol is being taken over by tall buildings, while the city which is home to 250,000 people is left without any green space or squares or parks. There is no infrastructure either. These buildings will increase the needs for wider roads and parking spaces, which the city simply does not have.”

Kakoulis said that citizens reacting against the high-rises are not against development.

“We just have to decide what kind of development it is we want and need. The city does not need more cement or high riser and hotels. What the city needs are sustainable development which will take into consideration the environment and the health of residents.”